Peco Turnout Shorting

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Twiget, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. Twiget

    Twiget Member

    Hay Guys,:wave: :wave: :wave:
    I am having a problem with some of my #6 Peco insulfrog turnouts. It seems that the metal wheels of cars are shorting across the points where the outside divergent rail and the inside through rail come together at the plastic frog. It is especially bad at slow speeds. Even to the point of causing my DCC loco to shutdown.:cry: When you turn out the lights you get a small light show when the wheels cross over the turnout points. There is also some noticeable burn marks on the rails. I hope my description is clear as I am not sure of the terminology. I did a search on this but did not find anything. Hope you can help. Oh the turnouts are code-100 and I model HO.:D
  2. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I suppose you've already worked out that you are getting a short. Is your rollingstock quite old? i,e, have quite wide wheels, and deep flanges compared to the newer rollingstock? If you have fixed your track down, and ballasted etc, there is probalby not much you can do.

    However, there was an article in Australian Model Railroad magazine a few months ago, just regarding this sort of thing.

    What they did, was to get their dremel, and a fine grinding disc, and you'll notice, as you point out, "where the outside divergent rail and the inside through rail come together at the plastic frog." you will notice a very fine piece of insulating plastic between the rails where they join.
    You very gently and accurately, grind along the plastic insulating bit and also grind off a very thin edge of the rail where it ajoins the plastic. Effectively lowering the rail edges only, that ajoin the thin plastic insulating bit, just enough, so the outer edges of your rollingstock wheels do not come in contact with the other rail. Try not to grind off any of the tapered ends of the rails along the plastic bit. Do it bit by bit, then test, then some more if needed.

    Is that an understandable explanation? Hope this helps. :thumb:
  3. Twiget

    Twiget Member

    Good day Woodie,
    You are the best.:thumb: :thumb: I used a small file instead of a Dremel. It took a little longer, but I was not sure I could control the Dremel enough with the reach I had to make. Took about a half hour of filing and testing but It finally stopped arching. Woodie, thank you very much for your help. The problem seems to be corrected.:D

  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    The alternate way is to put a plastic rail joiner beyond the frog. If you don't have power coming from beyond the frog, you won't get these shorts. You start needing extra feeders to go around the insulation. You are also now relying on the points to power the rails up to the frog.
  5. jnwrx1

    jnwrx1 New Member

    I am using peco code 80 Insulfrog tournouts, and I have now found spots where the turnouts are misbehaving on my layout. Even though they are supposed to be all live, they still seem to acting like power selective depending on which way the points are thrown. If they are thrown for the diverging route, they work fine, but if they are set for the thru-route, then all track on that alignment goes dead as soon as they are thrown.

    I was wondering if it might not be because I have two of them set as a crossover, with their diverging routes joined on the frog end, but it seems to be happening in exactly the same manner where even a single turnout is used.

    I found other information that indicates the Insulfrog turnouts actually do route power, and that sections of track connected to them or between them will still need separate feeder wires attached... I am confused by this, because all the advice pages say that Insulfrog tournouts should not need any special wiring, or have any unexpected electrical properties and can be used in any combination you need to place them.
  6. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    This might take some work.

    When I first saw this thread, I though that this would be the typical problem with power routing switches, where gaps have to be cut strategically in the two rails coming out of the frog if they don't belong to a dead end siding.

    However, after actually reading the post , it seems like we are dealing instead with the switches not being "DCC Friendly". Let me begin by saying I use DC exclusively on my own RR (see logging in eastern TN. on the DG CC & W RR in1928 over in the logging, mining and industrial section); but have exposure to DCC at our local club (see Bill and Tom's excellent adventure. . . . . also in the logging mining and industrial subsection).

    on the traditional power routing switch (and I believe that includes the Peco switches unless the design has changed in the many years since I used them exclusively) is the point assembly and the frog are an electrical unit. thus when the point contacts one stock rail, it makes electrical contact, so that that point, the frog, and the opposite point, are all getting power from the point that is touching the stock rail.

    The problem occurs as a conductive wheel rolls between the opposite open point it momentarily touches the point and the stock rail on which it is rolling, causing a momentary short, which is benign in a DC system , but will trip the hyper sensitive circuit breaker needed to protect those powerful , complicated and expensive DCC components.

    What is needed is a different electrical design for the switch. Unfortunately, these needed changes negate some of the great advantages of a Peco switch. It would be very handy if you had a switch that wasn't installed yet, to experiment with, and I hope you have a good soldering tool, and good soldering skills. If you don't, you will need them in this hobby eventually, and I will be happy to coach you as beast as I can.

    the first thing we need to do is to isolate each point from the frog electrically. we do this by cutting a gap through the rail between the frog and the hinge point of the each point.. then Ideally you could run a jumper wire from each stock rail to the adjacent point rail on the frog side of the point hinge. ( I hope you are following my terminology-some of which I may have made up). now each point rail is electrically wedded to it's adjacent stock rail, and that pesky wheel can't cause a short.

    Unfortunately, we also have an un powered frog - or a dead short, if we havent also cut through the jumpers Peco molds into the ties under the switch to confuse us. so the next thing we have to do is hook the switch up to a ground throw or a switch machine that has an electrical switch made on it to power the frog appropriately. This is a bummer, as the thing I like the most about peco switches is not needing a ground throw or a switch machine.

    On my own RR, where most of my track is hand laid, I use little DPDT (double pole double throw) electrical switches to make home made ground throws, that can power the frog. comercial ground theows with electrical contacts are also available, but in any case ther is a lot of work involved in fixing this problem,

    Good luck, and to save the trouble, when buying a switch, research your optiond to see if the switch is DCC Freindly.

    Bill Nelson
  7. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    The selective grinding seems to be a lot less work
  8. heidy_james

    heidy_james New Member

    This is a revealing site, which have the most up-to-date news and links. The perks are endless of this handy site. Thanks for giving out this info; it’s really precious for me.
  9. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    It is a very handy site, easy to share knowledge and pictures. Please feel free to ask questions , to contribute, and to invite others to come here and share, as we all benefit from more participation.

    Bill Nelson

Share This Page